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Mack the Flack

Our blog, Mack the Flack, explores PR, journalism, and communications trends in the digital age

Archive for the 'Uncategorized' Category

Twitter Fail for the NYPD

Monday, April 28th, 2014

Twitter currently has 241 million users worldwide, and 77 per cent of the company’s users access the social media platform via its mobile app.

So, with such a huge mobile audience, it must have made sense to some at the New York Police Department (NYPD) to launch #myNYPD, a Twitter PR campaign that asked citizens to tweet photos of friendly interactions with NYPD.

Instead, many New Yorkers posted an angry stream of photos depicting police brutality, including violent take-downs and images of police shooting victims.

The NYPD, responding to media questions about the department’s social media outreach effort, declared the #myNYPD campaign successful.

Mack begs to differ. Social media can do wonders for brands, social causes, charities and communities. But it can also turn around and bite you as fast as an out-of-control police dog.

Hard Times for Old-School Journalism

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2014

Mack’s daughter is looking at life after high school. Mack wants her to keep her options open and get a good job.

He, as a former journalist and journalism school grad, had one piece of advice: Steer clear of any traditional journalism post-secondary programs.

Why would anyone go into old-school print, radio and TV journalism? Earlier this month, the CBC announced more than 650 layoffs over the next two years, many of them in news rooms. Last week the Toronto Star laid off all 11 full-time page editors, outsourcing the work to a third-party company.

Legacy journalism has been gutted by the Internet. Online ads have decimated traditional revenue and online news sources render old-school journalists irrelevant.

But the technology-pounding legacy journalism is creating a new media and digital journalism. Learning new media skills and becoming more entrepreneurial, digital journalists are finding jobs. Seems the Toronto Star is hiring eight new digital journalists.

First Impressions

Monday, April 7th, 2014

One of Canada’s spring rituals is that high school and university students across the country learn how to write a cover letter, a resume and how to prepare for job interviews.

The other day, Mack’s daughter, clutching her much-revised resume, cover letter and wearing one of her mother’s navy blue outfits, headed to class for her mock job interview. Apparently it went well.

But after years of interviewing applicants for jobs and training programs Mack has sat through some very bad interviews. Here’s how to make a good first impression:

• Be on time – a basic time management skill.
• Be prepared – it says you care.
• Be interested – it’s not all about you; ask questions.
• Be focused – keep to the point and fill in details if asked.
• Be clean – shower, shave, clean, shine, press and brush.

Deadly Digital Distractions

Monday, March 31st, 2014

Mack’s daughter can start driving this summer. It’s going to be a stressful summer. It’s not her new skill that worries him; it’s all the other distracted drivers.

This month the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC) reported that distracted driving is the top cause of youth vehicle accidents. Over the past five years 34% of young drivers 16 – 21 years old involved in crashes resulting in injuries or deaths were distracted.

While young women were less likely than young men to be involved in a crash, when women were in an accident it was most often because they were distracted drivers, says ICBC.

On average 39 young people are killed and 7,100 are injured in vehicle accidents each year in BC. Increasingly the cause of the crashes is driving while texting, talking and being online.

35 Million Free Images (Lemur Selfie Included)

Monday, March 24th, 2014

Mack added “Selfie” to his laptop dictionary this afternoon after reading about a 12 year old lemur at the London zoo named Bekily who, grabbing a camera from a zoo keeper, snapped several photos, including a pretty good selfie.

The animal’s easy adoption of digital technology happened on the very same day the world’s largest photo agency, Getty Images, announced it would share more than 35 million images from its vast library for free.

Getty will now allow online, non-commercial, sharing of its news, sports, entertainment, archive and stock photos for personal and educational social media and blogging use.

According to the agency the decision is in response to widespread and copyright-flouting use of its images online.

Happy 25th www

Monday, March 17th, 2014

A belated happy 25 years for the world wide web this month. It was on March 12, 1989 that a British inventor, Tim Berners-Lee, (now Sir Berners-Lee) first proposed to make information sharing possible via a worldwide web of linked computers.

For those too young to remember the screech of a dial up modem, the agony of waiting for images to load line by line and a time before Google when you instead had to “Ask Jeeves” here are 9 ways the www has changed our world:

  1. Staying in touch with loved ones, almost anywhere on earth
  2. Finding the answer to random questions
  3. Avoiding lineups at stores, banks and ticket counters
  4. Self-diagnosis of life-threatening diseases
  5. Job Hunting
  6. Dating
  7. Binge TV/Movie watching
  8. Running a business
  9. Protesting, whining, and oversharing

Empty CUP

Monday, March 10th, 2014

Old style journalism, built on outdated technology, advertising and news consumption habits, is hurting.

So it didn’t surprise Mack – who started out as a reporter for the Carleton University student paper decades ago – to learn the Canadian University Press (CUP) student newspaper network will cut all 12 of its part time staff this week.

Started as a news sharing cooperative in 1938, CUP charges a substantial fee to act as a news curation source for student newspapers across Canada. Something any undergrad with a smartphone can now do for free.

Cup’s desperate financial shape – it has lost 35 of 90 student newspaper clients in the past decade – is just the latest example of old media’s fight to stay relevant in the digital age.

To make matters worse CUP was recently audited by Canada Revenue Agency and ordered to pay a $9,000 fine for incorrect taxes.

Which means, unfortunately for CUP, the only certainty is death and taxes.

Best Digital Friends 4eva

Monday, March 3rd, 2014

According to studies by Pew and UCLA, Mack’s daughter, as a teen, has an average of 300 Facebook friends, 79 Twitter followers and sends more 3,000 text messages a month.

And all that social media activity is changing the way many teens regard privacy and friendship. While many teens are taking steps to protect their identity online others have a limited understanding of privacy policies, geo-location services and the perils of sharing contact information.

Today’s teens also rely on social media to make and connect with friends, often getting social support through their growing social media networks.

Gone are the hours of after school telephone calls and weekend slumber parties of the past.

As the UCLA study observed about social media using teens: “The whole idea behind intimacy is self-disclosure. Now they’re doing self-disclosure to an audience of hundreds”.

Bad Times at the Bookstore

Monday, February 24th, 2014

Mack recently met with a textbook publisher’s representative. It didn’t go well. Mack explained that students no longer need to purchase outdated, overpriced textbooks. Instead they find digital alternatives to shelling out for printed textbooks.

A few days earlier the Alliance for Audited Media reported that, in the third quarter of 2013, single copy sales of Canadian consumer magazines have dropped by nearly 13%.

Poor textbook and magazine sales are not news to the SFU bookstore. This week the bookstore revealed its sales have dropped about 9% annually for the past two years. Worse still, it projects further declines for the years to come.

Turns out students, when given digital choices, choose not to purchase printed textbooks and magazines.

Surveying the Totally Obvious

Monday, February 17th, 2014

Academic research often offers surprising results.

For example research by the SFU PR program revealed that, despite increased social media responsibilities job satisfaction among 84 per cent of the Vancouver PR professionals surveyed had either increased or remained the same.

Other academic research reveals the obvious. Some examples for the National Post’s annual list of pointless research are good for a laugh:

• The University of Liverpool concludes that the biggest sources of anxiety and depression are traumatic life events

• A study by the University of Maryland determines that many underage youths use false ID to buy alcohol

• A University of Japan investigation reveals that cats ignore their owners

• Academic research published in Public Library of Science concludes toddlers know the rules of sharing but don’t follow them